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MIDDLESEX FELLS 



WLit\) a Jttay 



BY 



EOSEWELL B. LAWEENCE 




EXTBACTED FROM " ApPALACHIA," VOL. IV. No. 3 



BOSTON 

APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN CLUB 

1886 

FOR SALE BY 

W. B. CLAKRE AND CAEEUTH 

Bool-sellers and Stationers 

"40 W,\sirT?;oTON Strf.kt, Boston 



[Extracted from Appalachian Vol. IV, No. III.'] 



Middlesex Fells. 



By Rosewell B. Lawrence. 

Many inquiries have been made during the last few years 
concerning mops of the Middlesex Fells. A good map was 
published by the late Hon. Elizur Wright, in June, 1883, but 
it does not show the numerous wood-roads which give access 
to the many points of interest. This want has led to the prep- 
aration of a map published in connection with this number 
of Appalachia. 

In its compilation valuable assistance was obtained from 
Mr. Wright's blue map, Prof. II. P. Waiting's map of Med- 
ford (1855), Mr. G. M. Hopkins' maps of Stoneham (1874) 
and Melrose (1874), a plan of the Winchester reservoirs, 
drawn by Mr. Percy M. Blake, and the maps of the various 
municipalities in Beers' Atlas of Middlesex County (1875). 
These maps, however, afforded but little assistance in locating 
the wood-roads, foot-paths, hills, brooks, and swamps. To 
accomplish this part of the work the writer has traversed 
every wood-road and foot-path — many of them several times 
— and has climbed nearly every hill. Although accuracy is 
not claimed, no scientific observations having been taken, yet 
it is hoped that the results of personal exploration, published 
in this map, will he useful to the lover of Middlesex Pells, and 
will lead many strangers to form an intimate acquaintance 
with the numerous attractions of that delightful region. 1 

1 A request is here made that any one who discovers errors or omissions will 
kindly send the information to the writer, in order that it may be incorporated 
in a subsequent map, should a second edition be deemed advisable. 



200 



MIDDLESEX FELLS. 



The location and character of Middlesex Pells are well de- 
scribed by Mr. Sylvester Baxter : — 

" Something like five miles northerly from Boston lies a great tract 
of country, all stony hills and table-lands, almost uninhabited, and of 
wonderful picturesqueness, and wild, rugged beauty. It is within the 
limits of the towns of Maiden [now a city], Medford [Melrose], 
Stoneham, and Winchester ; and its heart is that most beautiful of 
Boston's suburban lakes, Spot Pond, which lies high up among the hills. 
The limits of this region are defined with great clearness, especially 
on the south and east, a line of steep hills and ledges rising abruptly 
from the broad plain that borders the Mystic River, almost as level as 
a floor, and forming its southern boundary, while on the east the ledges 
start with still greater steepness out of the long valley of meadow-land 
through which the Boston and Maine Railroad passes. ... Its west- 
ern margin is formed by the valley through which run the Lowell 
Railroad and its Stoneham branch, and its northern by the houses and 
fields of Stoneham. . . . The nature of this region cannot be better 
characterized than by the application of the old Saxon designation 
fells, — a common enough word in England, meaning a tract of wild 
stone hills, corresponding to the German word felsen." J 

During the past few years efforts have been made by Mr. 
Wright and others to secure the preservation of this region as 
a Natural Park or Forest Preserve. The territory embraces 
about 4,000 acres, including 500 of water reservoirs. The 
owners number 1-50, and the assessed valuation is between 
1300,000 and $350,000, including buildings valued at about 
$70,000. The limits, as marked upon the map, are arbitrary, 
having been drawn by Mr. Wright and others so as to include 
the water-sheds of the reservoirs, the chief hills, and all the 
wooded and rocky land lying between the settled portions of 
the five towns. Much of the region is now covered by brush ; 
but there are many fine groves of pine and hemlock, and 
hundreds of acres covered with oak, birch, maple, hickory, 
cedar, etc. The whole region is well adapted to the growth of 
white pine. 

A "Chronological Account of the Middlesex Pells Move- 
ment " was given in the " Boston Evening Transcript," Nov. 

1 Boston Herald Supplement, Dec. 6, 1879. See also Transcript, Nov. 15, 
1880, answer to query 3,106. 



MIDDLESEX FELLS. 



201 



13, 1880. In this account we find mention of Mr. Wilson 
Flagg's article entitled " A Forest Preserve : A Proposition to 
State and City Governments." Mr. Flagg alluded to the wild 
region extending from Stonehain to Salem as a good site for 
the location of one or more of these preserves. 1 In 1869 Mr. 
Wright published a pamphlet entitled " Mt. Andrew Park," 
in which he recommended that the Fells region, then known 
as " The Five-Mile Wood," be converted into a park. He 
advised the preservation of the forest upon the hills, and the 
establishment of Schools of Natural History in connection 
with it. In the last chapter of " The Woods and Byways of 
New England," published in 1872, Mr. Flagg recommended 
that " The Five-Mile Wood " be selected as a site for a 
" Forest Conservatory," and in 187G an unsuccessful attempt 
was made by Mr. Flagg and others before the Massachusetts 
General Court to secure legislation favoring this project. In 
1879-80 appeared Mr. Baxter's article, and three open letters 
by Mr. Flagg to Col. T. W. Higginson. 2 

The Middlesex Fells Association was organized in the early 
part of 1880, with Mr. Wright as President. At one of its 
meetings two interesting communications were presented, — 
a statement by Mr. Flagg showing the public the objects of 
the Association, and a letter from Mr. Frederick Law Olm- 
stead giving his advice on the Fells project. 3 Under the 
auspices of the Association a mass meeting was held in the 
Medford Town Hall, Jan. 26, 1881, the principal speakers 
being Governor Long, Prof. B. G. Northrop of Connecti- 
cut, Col. T. W. Higginson, Hon. E. S. Converse, John Owen, 
and Elizur Wright. 4 The most important work accom- 
plished was the passage by the Legislature of the Public 
Domain Act, chapter 255 of the Acts of 1882, "An Act 
authorizing towns and cities to provide for the preservation 
and reproduction of Forests." This act empowers a town or 
city to take or purchase land for the preservation and culture 
of forest trees, or for the preservation of the water-supply, to 

1 Charles M. Hovey's Magazine of Horticulture, Jan., 1856. 

2 Transcript, Dec. 31, 1879, Jan. 13, 23, 1880; see also Dec. 11, 18, 30, 1880. 

3 Herald, Nov. 14, 1880. 

* Transcript, Jan. 27, 1881. 



202 



MIDDLESEX FELLS. 



make appropriations in money for such taking or purchase, 
and to receive donations in land or money. The title of such 
land is to vest in the Commonwealth, and be held in perpetuity 
for the benefit of the town or city in which it is situated. The 
State Board of Agriculture, acting as a Board of Forestry, is 
to have the management of all such public domains, and to 
make regulations for the preservation of timber and the plant- 
ing and cultivating of trees ; it may also appoint keepers and 
lease buildings. The income from leases and the sale of pro- 
ducts is to be applied to the management of the domain, the 
surplus in any year being paid to the city or town in which 
the domain is situated. No land can be taken or purchased, 
or liability incurred under this act, until an appropriation 
sufficient to cover the estimated expense shall have been made 
in a town by a vote of two thirds of the legal voters present 
and voting ; or in a city, by a vote of two thirds of each branch 
of the City Council. To defray the expenses, bonds may be 
issued, denominated on the face "Public Domain Loan." 
These are the leading features of the Act. 

To encourage favorable action by the five municipalities, a 
subscription was started, and a Board of Trustees formed to 
receive and hold " conditional obligations " which were to be 
collected and paid to the municipalities, when by their con- 
current votes the title of the real estate should vest in the 
Commonwealth. Although no canvass was made, about 
115,000 was subscribed. The passage of the new Forest Law 
was celebrated June 17, 1882, on Bear Hill, by a meeting 
of the Fells Association, the Essex and Middlesex Institutes, 
and other friends of the project. Among the speakers were 
Hon. George B. Loring and Hon. Daniel Needham. 1 The 
Medford Public Domain Club was organized Dec. 17, 1884, 
to enlist the active co-operation of Medford citizens ; and the 
meeting was addressed by Rev. Edward Everett Hale and 
Mr. Wright. 2 Many other meetings have been held, in public 
halls and at various points in the Fells. 

On Nov. 21, 1885, the Hon. Elizur Wright died suddenly at 
his residence in Medford. He was the originator and chief 

1 Massachusetts Ploughman, June 24, 1882. 

2 Globe, Dec. 18, 1884. 



MIDDLESEX FELLS. 



203 



supporter of the Middlesex Pells project, and his life was 
probably sacridced by overwork in endeavoring to arouse pub- 
lic interest in its behalf. He was a Life Member of the Appa- 
lachian Mountain Club, and a frequent attendant upon its 
meetings and excursions. Jan. 9, 1884, he read a paper on the 
" Sanitary Effect of Forests." * An appropriate eulogy, which 
I am permitted to quote, was contained in the address of 
President T. W. Higginson before the Club, Jan. 13, 1886 : — 

" We miss from among us the face of that devoted friend of all out- 
door explorations, Elizur Wright. I have known him almost all my 
life : first, as the fearless ally, and at times the equally fearless critic, 
of William Lloyd Garrison ; then as the translator of La Fontaine's 
Fables, — a task for which he seemed fitted by something French in his 
temperament, a certain mixture of fire and bonhomie, which lasted to 
the end of his days ; then as a zealous petitioner before the legislature 
to remove the lingering disabilities of atheists ; and then as the eager, 
hopeful, patient, unconquerable advocate of the scheme for setting 
apart the Middlesex Fells as a forest park. I served with him for a 
time on a committee for that seemingly hopeless object, and shall 
never forget the inexhaustible faith with which he urged it. In his 
presence it was almost impossible not to believe in its speedy success ; 
all obstacles seemed little before his sanguine confidence, and each 
scattering donation of a dollar or two filled him with renewed faith, 
although it was plain that tens of thousands of dollars must be forth- 
coming to accomplish the end. Scarcely any one was ever present 
at these committee meetings except the three old men in whom the 
whole enterprise appeared to centre, — Wilson Flagg, John Owen, 
and Elizur Wright. They were all of patriarchal aspect ; and as they 
sat leaning toward each other, with long gray locks and gray beards 
flowing, I always felt as if I were admitted to some weird council of 



1 Among the numerous articles written by Mr. Wright, the following may 
be mentioned in addition to those noticed in the text : The Park Question ; 
The Park of the Future; Middlesex Fells (several papers); The Forests; 
Middlesex Fells, Boulevards across Mystic. Valley; Middlesex Fells, Suburban 
Park between Medford and Stoneham ; Our Water Supply, address in the Town 
flail, Maiden, March 31, 1881 ; Oh for a Worthy Palm (poetry) ; The Legend of 
Cheese Hock (poetry) ; The Voice of a Tree from the Middlesex Fells, Tran- 
script, Oct. 10, 1883; The Public Domain,— the Atmosphere of Heaven the 
Atmosphere of the People; Forest Culture from a Sanitary Point of View ; 
The Massachusetts Law; Answers to L, Medford Mercury, Jan. 9, Oct. 30, 
1885 ; " Fas est ah hoste doceri," Medford Mercury, Nov. 6, 1885. 



204 



MIDDLESEX FELLS. 



old Greek wood-gods, displaced and belated, not yet quite convinced 
that Pan was dead, and planning together to save the last remnants of 
the forests they loved." 

The principal attraction of Middlesex Fells is Spot Pond, 
a beautiful sheet of water with several pretty islands and 
many rocky and wooded points. The name of the pond, in- 
teresting on account of its historic origin, is explained by the 
following quotation from Governor Winthrop's Diary : — 

" February 7, 1G31 (0. 8.). The governour, Mr. Nowell, Mr. Eliot 
and others, went over Mistick River at Medford, and going N. and by 
E. among the rocks about two or three miles, they came to a very great 
pond, having in the midst an island of about one acre, and very thick 
with trees of pine and beech ; and the pond had divers small rocks 
standing up here and there in it, which they thereupon called Spot 
Pond. They went all about it upon the ice." ' 

The elevation of this pond above the sea is about 150 feet, 
the greatest depth 32 feet, the area 296 acres, and the area 
of the water-shed about 1,100 acres. The water, which is 
exceptionally pure, is the source of water-supply for the city 
of Maiden and the towns of Medford and Melrose. The small 
brick and stone buildings on the south and east shores belong 
to the water-works. 

Boats can be hired to row to the islands, and paths may be 
found leading to the most attractive spots along the shores. 
There are several good places to rest or lunch. On the south 
side of the pond, near Forest Street, is a pine grove, a part of 
which was formerly used as a picnic-ground ; the view is very 
pretty. On the shore, a short distance farther east, is a pic- 
turesque rock jutting into the water. This spot can be reached 
by following the shore from Forest Street, or by ta.king a 
narrow sylvan road which leaves Forest Street at a point 
farther south. Between the Medford water-works and Wyo- 
ming Street is a high point with pines and hemlocks, com- 
manding one of the finest views on the pond. This place can 
be found by following foot-paths from Wyoming Street and 



1 Winthrop's New England, vol. i. p. 
Mr. Wright. 



C. See also Mt. Andrew Fark, by 



MIDDLESEX FELLS. 



205 



the Medford gate-house. On the southeast side, along Wyo- 
ming Street are several stone houses which command good 
views. Pretty views can also be enjoyed from Pond Street, 
where it runs along by the water. On the west side of the 
pond is another beautiful spot, a rocky, wooded promontory, 
commanding a view of the whole pond, including the interest- 
ing features on the south and east sides. To reach this point, 
take the path next south of the road which leads to the old 
ice-house, invisible from Main Street. 

Prom Spot Pond, Governor Winthrop and his party went 
to what is now called Bear Hill. This is the highest eleva- 
tion in the Pells, being about 370 feet above sea-level, and is 
distant from the State House exactly 7| miles. 1 I am indebted 
to Professor Charles E. Fay for the following description of 
the view from Bear Hill : — 

" The view from Bear Hill is interesting, first of all, for what lies 
near at hand. From no point, perhaps, can one secure a more com- 
prehensive view of the Middlesex Fells ; and it is over these scantly 
wooded knolls, or between them, that one catches glimpses of Boston 
and its neighbors. How subordinate the part which the city is forced 
to play in this scene ! and then to think that there is spare money 
enough just over there, if it could only be got at, to ransom all this 
fair wild, and make it a free park forever ! 

" The horizon from south to west is set with familiar eminences, — 
the Blue Hill Range, the hills of Brookline and Newton, with distant 
Pegan over Belmont, and then the heights of Arlington, Lexington, 
and Woburn. Then the sky-line suddenly retreats, and for sixty de- 
grees we have an almost continuous line of distant mountains. How 
they gleam these March days under their snowy mantles ! First the 
' whaleback' of Wachusett, nearly due west ; next, after two or three 
considerable hills, Watatic rises in a pronounced cone ; then comes the 
monarch of them all, the grand Monadnock. The lower swell of Kid- 
der Mountain follows, and then a fine mountain-mass, rivalling Monad- 
nock itself as seen from here, yet in reality far less grand. It consists 
of two high peaks, some distance apart, but joined by a lofty ridge. 
The first is Temple Mountain, the other Pack Monadnock. Yet more 
to the right is another long mountain rising into something of a peak 
at its eastern end, — the Lyndeborough Range. A trifle farther to the 



1 U. S. Geological Survey, 1885. 



206 



MIDDLESEX FELLS. 



right and still more distant, one sees Crotchet Mountain, in Frances- 
town, rising above an intervening hill. Nothing of note follows until 
Joe English Hill, lifting its bulk out of the low horizon, asserts itself 
with much more assurance than the higher Uncanoonucs, whose upper 
portions only are seen farther to the eastward, overtopping a much 
nearer ridge. Nearly as far to the right of the Eastern Uncanoonuc 
as Joe English is to its left, about midway between the former and 
that prominent hill in the middle ground which ranges in line with 
two ponds (Fox Hill, in Billerica), rises a high and very distant 
summit, which can hardly be other than the southern Kearsarge. A 
few degrees west of north, where the horizon again recedes, the eye 
greets a mountain seldom noted in the list of those visible from our 
suburban hills, — probably Pawtuckaway, a coast-survey station in 
Rockingham County (N. H). About as far to the east of north are 
the hills of Andover, the grassy slopes of Holt's most prominent. 
Over other gently swelling hills of Essex County the view ranges, 
until, summoning courage to pass the great rampart of masonry that 
crowns the summit of Asylum Hill in Danvers, it comes to enjoy the 
glimpses of the sea." 

On the north slope are cedars, in the shade of which one 
can rest while enjoying the view of the distant mountains. 
Here the Governor's party lunched. " This place they called 
Cheese Rock, because, when they went to eat something, they 
had only cheese (the governour's man forgetting, for haste, to 
put up some bread)." 1 It is somewhat uncertain where this 
rock is located ; but according to the most generally accepted 
opinion, it is the precipitous ledge which faces the north. 
The hill may be approached by cart-paths leading from Main 
and Marble Streets to the foot of the steep northern slope ; 
also by a path on the east side, ascending gradually from 
Main Street to the open table-land a short distance south of 
the summit. 

Taylor Mountain might well be called the southern end of 
Bear Hill, being part of the same mass. From this so-called 
mountain wc have a charming bit of scenery. Below the 
ragged cliffs on the southwest side is the long narrow basin 
of the Winchester reservoir, curving among the hills. One 
does not suspect that this beautiful sheet of water is the work 

1 Winthrop's New England, vol. i. p. 0. 



MIDDLESEX FELLS. 



207 



of man, until he spies the gate-house at the northwest end. 
The dam cannot be seen from the upper part of the reservoir, 
and is hardly noticeable from Taylor Mountain. The pond is 
seven eighths of a mile in length, 26 feet in depth, and its 
elevation is about 150 feet. 1 The area is 60 acres, and the 
area of the water-shed 460. The view from Taylor Mountain 
also includes Spot Pond, Turkey Swamp, the numerous hills 
of the Fells, and some distant points. 

Contrary to general expectation, Turkey Swamp is very 
interesting. It occupies the centre of the western half of 
the Fells, and is destined some day to be one of the most 
beautiful attractions. Even now the millions of cat-o'-nine- 
tails lend it a charm. In 1873 the town of Winchester se- 
cured the right to use this area as an additional source of 
water-supply. At that time it was feared that the north 
reservoir would be inadequate, and it was also expected that 
the town would be able to sell some of its water. The right 
was secured, and a dam built at the southern end ; but the 
opportunity to sell water not being realized, and the present 
reservoir continuing to bo sufficient, it was impossible to se- 
cure the appropriation necessary to complete the new one. 
Winchester showed great foresight in securing this valuable 
privilege. The water will eventually be needed by that and 
other municipalities ; and if the water-shed, as well as water 
area is secured, the town will be wise indeed. The water 
could then be kept free from contamination, and the supply 
increased by the forest which would cover the hills. The 
area of the reservoir will be 140 acres, and the area of the 
water-shed 600 ; its surface will be ten feet above the north 

reservoir. 

Turkey Swamp is very irregular in shape, and may be di- 
vided into several sections, the principal point of division 
being near the centre of the west side, where there is a 
small dam at which it is possible to cross at any season of 
the year. Cart-paths cross the swamps at two other points 
in dry seasons. The upper portion can be reached by a wood- 

1 The Winchester reservoir is 136 feet above the Mystic dam. According to 
the article in the " Transcript," Dec. 31, 1879, it is three feet higher than Spot 
Pond. It was constructed in 1873. 



208 



MIDDLESEX PELLS. 



road leading from Main Street, Stoneham, not far from the 
Medford line : this road divides, the southern branch crossing 
at the little dam, then passing some fine pines, and coming 
out in "Winchester at the head of Mt. Vernon Street ; the 
northern branch skirting the southern slope of the hill which 
lies between the present reservoir and the swamp, passing the 
high-service reservoir, a small round building on the top of a 
hill, and coming out in Winchester at the head of Wilson 
Street (a new street not yet laid out) and also at the reservoir 
dam. The windmill at this dam pumps the water into the 
high-service reservoir. 

In the Winchester section of the Fells arc several groves of 
pines, the one overlooking the reservoir being perhaps the 
pleasantcst. The hills afford good views, and can be reached 
by various paths ; the highest point, an elevation of about 270 
feet, is most easily reached by a wood-road which branches 
from the Mt. Vernon Street wood-road. 

The large dam at the southern end of Turkey Swamp is best 
reached from Winchester by a lane which leaves Main Street a 
few rods north of the Medford line. Care should be taken to 
leave this lane at a point where a cart-path crosses an open 
cultivated field. One can also find this lane from Chestnut and 
Mt. Vernon Streets, but with more or less risk of getting lost. 
The easiest way to the dam from Medford is by a long and 
pleasant wood-road, which is very easy to follow after it has been 
found. The lower end starts from a field a little to the right 
of the upper end of a lane which leaves Purchase Street not 
far from High Street. The upper end loses itself in the 
works at the dam. On the west side of this wood-road is a 
hill which gives a fair view. The dam is also reached by 
following Brooks Lane from Medford Square. There is a 
perfect maze of wood-roads between Pine Hill and the swamp, 
but by paying strict attention to the map the way can be 
found. The proposed line of division between Medford and 
West Medford (the town of Brooks) starts at Spot Pond and 
runs nearly south-southwest, leaving Turkey Swamp on the 
right and striking High Street near Purchase. 

Pasture Hill is near the centre of Medford, and affords a 
view of the town and the Mystic Valley. It is easily reached 



MIDDLESEX FELLS. 



209 



by Brooks Lane, which takes its name from Governor John 
Brooks. The entire length of this wood-road is delightful for 
a walk. Leaving the residence of Governor Brooks on the 
left corner of High Street, the lane passes a brick house, one 
of the old forts of the Indian times, runs along the foot of 
Pasture Hill, then between fields where once were farmhouses, 
and finally through the woods to a point on Forest Street, 
half-way between Pine Hill and Spot Pond. 

Pine Hill, about 282 feet, 1 is the highest elevation on the 
southern line of the Pells. The summit is sharp and rocky. 
The view embraces the Milton Hills, the ocean on both sides 
of Nahant, and Boston surrounded by its suburbs and harbor. 
The Mystic Valley lies in the foreground, and just beyond 
appear the buildings of Tufts College on the summit of Col- 
lege Hill. The northern half of the view shows the wilder- 
ness of the Fells region. Distant points are seldom visible. 
The hill is ascended by two paths, — one from the late resi- 
dence of Mr. Wright, and the other from the road which leads 
to the old granite quarries west of the hill. Under the careful 
protection of Mr. Wright, many young pines have been springing 
up on the slopes of the hill, and especially on the rocky land 
west of the quarries. 

Of the many rocky eminences north of Pine Hill, the one 
which gives the best view might be called Silver Mine Hill. 
At its northwest base is a deep shaft where the precious metals 
were sought a few years ago. More money was sunk in the 
hole than was dug out of it. The extensive wooded elevation 
north of the mine was called by Mr. Wright, Mt. Lincoln. 
He said he could get a good view from this hill by climbing a 
tree. I presume I have never found the tree he climbed. 

In the depression south of Spot Pond and between Forest, 
Elm, and Fulton Streets, is a pretty pond made for ice-cutting. 
A higher dam would flow a large anea and furnish a good 
supply of water. It would be wise policy on the part of Med- 
ford to secure this area as a future addition to her water- 
supply ; for if the municipalities which now draw upon Spot 
Pond continue to grow in population at the rapid rate of the 



1 The height as given by. Mr. Wright, obtained by levelling. 
APPALACHIA IV. 14 



210 



MIDDLESEX FELLS. 



past five years (an increase of nearly 31 per cent), and do 
not secure additional supplies, then in some dry season Spot 
Pond will merit its name, not on account of the spots of rocks 
upon its surface, but on account of the spots of water among 
the rocks. Near the centre of this area south of Spot Pond 
is a large bowlder which can be reached by several foot-paths, 
the one from the northwest being the best, especially in wet 
weather. 

That region which lies between Forest Street and Highland 
Avenue is not specially interesting. A view can bo obtained 
from the rocky peak close by the Maiden line and near the 
lane which is called Murray Street, and another from the pile 
of rocks which crowns the rugged cliffs just north of the pro- 
posed Valley Street. This latter tract is now being opened 
to settlement, a new street having been already built to the 
top of the hill, and plans being now in preparation for laying 
out house-lots. Those who enjoy a ride on a truly rural road 
should try Pulton Street. It was built in 1641 by Oharles- 
town, to gain access to her land north of Medford. 1 At that 
time Charlestown completely surrounded Medford. Lest any 
one should bo misled by old maps, it is well to add that a 
portion of Medford was annexed to Maiden in 1877. 2 From 
Salem Street to the Stoneham line the width of this strip, 
east to west, is 990.64 feet. 

The section which is bounded on the west by Highland 
Avenue, Fulton and Wyoming Streets, on the north by the 
Ravine Road, on the east by Washington Street, and on the 
south by the settled portion of Maiden, is the most rugged 
part of the Fells. Its rocky peaks are its leading features, 
and it therefore well deserves to be called " Fells." Many 
of its cliffs are remarkably fine, and some command good 
views. It contains several fine groves of pines and hemlocks, 
and in the wet season many small ponds. A labyrinth of 
wood-roads and foot-paths must be disentangled before one 
can plan and carry out a visit to all its attractions. 

The finest cliffs in the vicinity of Boston arc on the cast 
side of this section, near the Fells Station on the Boston and 

1 History of Medford, by Charles Brooks, 1855, p. 61. 

2 Acts of 1877, chap. 139, and Acts of 1878, chap. 19. 



MIDDLESEX FELLS. 



211 



Maine Railroad. They alone are worth a visit. In a depres- 
sion in the ledge between the two highest points of rock is the 
" Cascade," the only waterfall of which the Fells can boast. 
The brook conies from the hills and swamps, and on account 
of the limited area of the watershed, is dry in summer. In 
the spring, however, the cascade is beautiful, and sometimes 
in winter the interesting ice- work renders it even more attrac- 
tive. Farther north, near the point where Washington Street 
crosses the line from Melrose into Stoneham, is a fine grove 
of pines, — 'a remnant of that famous pine and hemlock forest 
which only a few years ago extended from Melrose to Spot 
Pond on both sides of the Ravine Road. Although the axe 
and the mill have destroyed the charm of this drive, there 
are still left several sections which are well worth serious 
efforts to save. On the elevated ground south of the Ravine 
Road a high-service reservoir is in process of construction for 
the town of Melrose. 

In the interior of this section of the Fells are two pretty 
ponds, which exist during the entire year unless the season is 
extremely dry. They are called Shiner and Hemlock Ponds. 
1 have not seen any shiners in either of them, but the latter 
has some fine hemlocks crowning the rocks at its northern 
end. This pond and its grove are well worth a visit to one 
who enjoys a charming bit of Nature. East-northeast of Hem- 
lock Pond, and not very far distant, is an immense rectangular 
pile of rocks, — ■ two sides of which, however, have fallen down, 
— marking the highest elevation in the eastern half of the 
Fells, about 300 feet. 1 This is the Stone Monument. From 
its top one can get a good idea of the rocky nature of the 
region ; and if an observatory were built, an extensive view 
in all directions could be enjoyed. 2 

The two ponds and the Stone Monument can be easily 
reached from either of the several highways, provided the 
pedestrian knows the way. It is hoped that the map will 

1 Aneroid measurement. 

2 The stone which serves as the common hound of Maiden, Medford, and 
Stoneham is a few rods southeast of the Monument ; and 990.64 feet south 
05° east of that is an old rock, marked M. M. S. No. 1, the present hound of 
Maiden, Melrose, and Stoneham, and the former bound of Medford, Melrose, 
and Stoneham. 



212 



MIDDLESEX FELLS. 



help any one with a good bump of locality to know the way 
before he starts. A stranger wishing to visit the ponds is 
advised to take the wood-road which leaves Wyoming Street 
near the southeast corner of Spot Pond. The path from 
Hemlock Pond to the Monument is hard to find ; but> the 
Monument once found, the path to the pond is plain. Hem- 
lock Pond is also easily reached by a wood-road which leaves 
Fulton Street, Medford, at a point opposite a small house 
standing close to the street. The wood-roads leading into 
this section from Maiden and Melrose, especially the Bear 
Den Path, are good ; but the stranger should be careful in 
following them, unless he is willing to get lost. And why 
not get lost ? If you have a compass and plenty of time, — 
and both of these you always should have when tramping in 
the woods,-— what greater charm is there than to wander 
hither and thither, wondering what beautiful bit of Nature 
you will stumble upon next ! It may be a precipitous cliff 
or a mossy glen, a grove of noble pines or hemlocks, an inter- 
esting bowlder or a pretty flower, a beautiful pond, an exten- 
sive view, or a wilderness of charming cat-o'-nine-tails. 

That section which lies in Stoneham near Franklin Street 
is not specially attractive, and probably would not have been 
included by Mr. Wright within the limits of the Middlesex 
Fells had it not been a part of the Spot Pond water-shed. 
Doleful Pond merits its name, for it is largely surrounded by 
swampy land and its chief inlet rises in a swamp. There are 
several hills commanding northeast views, and many pleasant 
paths, the chief one being a cart-path which goes from Pond 
Street through to Green's Lane. I am indebted to A. Selwyn 
Lynde, Esq., of Melrose, for valuable assistance in tracing the 
paths in this section. 

In concluding, it may not be inappropriate to say a few 
words concerning the present prospects of the Middlesex 
Fells movement, and to summarize the arguments m its 
favor. In the death of Elizur Wright the Fells lost their 
most enthusiastic friend. His energy can no longer be relied 
upon. Does it not, therefore, become the duty^of all who are 
interested in the project to increase their efforts ? Mr. Wright 
once wrote : — 



MIDDLESEX FELLS. 



213 



"The people must move and act spontaneously, if anything is done. 
It is everybody's axe ; and if nobody grinds it, it will be dull for the 
generations to come. The wood-choppers are sure to grind theirs 
while a tree is left. Here is work for the press, the pulpit, the plat- 
form, — for every one who likes to breathe pure air, drink pure water, 
and see green things." 1 



It is hoped that the publication of this map will, by enabling 
people to become more familiar with the region, stimulate 
public interest in the work. The task is undoubtedly a diffi- 
cult one. To insure success it must be pushed by influential 
men, and their efforts must be seconded by a generous public. 
Little assistance can be expected from the city and towns 
within whose borders the Fells lie ; for they are at present 
growing very rapidly, and arc so burdened with necessary 
improvements that they do not feel able to appropriate money 
for this purpose from their treasuries. They do not, however, 
realize what a fine opportunity they have for securing a natu- 
ral park. The city of Boston, which would be largely bene- 
fited, is already struggling with an elaborate system of parks 
within its own borders. The Forestry Congress, held in 
Boston last September, was addressed by Mr. Wrig;ht on the 
subject of the Fells. A committee appointed by this meeting 
will endeavor to secure further legislation to secure the pro- 
tection of forests from fires, and are in consultation with a 
few prominent friends of the Fells as to what further measures 
it is advisable to take to secure the success of that project. 

It is not necessary to dwell upon the arguments which are 
familiar to all, — that the northern portion of Boston and its 
northern suburbs need a park just as much as the southern 
portion and the southern suburbs need Franklin (West Box- 
bury) Park ; that contiguous real estate will increase in value, 
and the neighboring towns become more desirable for resi- 
dences ; that a valuable opportunity is offered to secure, not 
the ordinary garden-park with fountains, flower-beds, and 
gravel-walks, but a unique park, one after Nature's own 
heart, and in which she can be enjoyed in her simplicity, 
unadorned by man's artificial devices ; that a large annual 



Melrose Journal, March 17, 1883. 



214 



MIDDLESEX PELLS. 



income can be derived from a well-managed forest, as is 
proved by European experience ; that the forests increase 
and preserve the water-supply by storing up the spring and 
fall rains and protecting the springs from drying up ; that 
a natural park would offer valuable educational facilities and 
lead the people to study the rocks and flowers, and especially 
our New England forest-trees ; that here the city child could 
catch his first glimpse of Nature, and the overworked profes- 
sional or business man and the tired laborer could find recre- 
ation and relief ; that the " appreciation of the beauty and use 
of absolutely rugged and wild scenery" 1 would become general. 
A more serious aspect of the subject is presented to the 
mind when we recall the difficulties with which Boston is 
now contending in preserving the purity of her water-supplies. 
Even the town of Winchester, situated within the basin of 
one of Boston's supplies, is fighting the owner of a large pig- 
gery which lies upon the water-shed of her own reservoir. 
Already there are several cheap dwelling-houses upon the 
water-shed of Spot Pond, 2 and the rapid growth of Stoneham 
will, before many years, wake the people who drink Spot Pond 
water to a realization of their folly in not securing the water- 
shed for public park purposes, and thus preserving the purity 
of the water. Moreover, the large increase in population and 
valuation of all five municipalities during the past five years 3 
emphasizes the desirability, from every point of view, of estab- 
lishing a public park in their midst. Now is the time to act ; 
for the four thousand acres are practically unsettled, and real 
estate is cheap. 

i Frederick Law Olmstead, Herald, Nov. 14, 1880. 

2 Near Franklin Street. 

8 Recent growth of the municipalities within the Middlesex Fells : — 





Population. 


Ecal-Estnte Valua- 
tion, 1885. 


1880. 


1885. ' 




12.017 
7,573 
4,560 
4.J591 
3,802 

32,843 


16,407 
9,041 
6,101 
6,652 
4,390 

41,591 


»10,C55,050 
6,185 425 
4,874.250 
2.710 335 
3,069,722 

$26,994,782 




Stoneham 










« 



I 



PUBLICATIONS 

OF THE 

APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN CLUB. 



Appalachia, the journal of the Club, has now reached 
its fifteenth number, the one last issued being Vol. IV., 

No. 3. 

Vol. I. (1876-78) contains three hundred and eight 
pages and eleven plates; Vol. II. (1879-1881), three hun- 
dred and seventy-nine pages and nine plates ; Vol. III. 
(1882-1884), three hundred and ninety pages and six 
plates. Each number is composed of special articles and 
an official section. The former are chiefly papers of 
special interest that have been presented or read at the 
meetings of the Club, and represent with equal fulness 
its scientific and touristic interests. The official section 
contains the reports of officers, especially of the Council- 
lors, — with appended brief accounts by individuals of 
special work done by them in the several departments, — 
the proceedings of the Club, reports of its excursions, 
etc. The illustrations are chiefly topographical and geo- 
logical maps and camera profiles, and reproductions from 
photographic negatives taken by members and others. In 
general, the journal is an exponent of the character and 
work of the society, and serves as a bond of interest to 
the non-resident members, and as a representative of .the 
Club to other similar associations. 

Vol. I., No. I. is out of print, but copies of any other 
issue will be furnished at 50 cents each. Bound copies 
of Vol. II. and Vol. III. may be procured by application 
to the sales-agents, Messrs. W. B. Clarke & Carruth, 
340 Washington Street, Boston. 



Persons desiring membership in the Club can apply to 
the Secretary of the Appalachian Mountain Club, Boston, 
Mass.